'The Gumball Machine' – Wilmington, Delaware - Atlas Obscura

'The Gumball Machine'

In Wilmington's hip Trolley Square neighborhood, a utility box has been repainted to resemble a classic gumball machine. 

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A favored sight in the waiting rooms of doctor’s offices and lobbies of laundromats, the coin-operated gumball machine has fallen on hard times of late. In Wilmington, Delaware, however, there’s still one place to get your nostalgic gumball fix–a utility box in the hip Trolley Square neighborhood.

Trolley Square skews young and hip, with a bustling restaurant and nightlife scene. Also known as Forty Acres, the origin of the area’s name dates back to the 1850s, when the Wilmington City Railway first set up their trolley car barn at what is now the corner of DuPont Street and Delaware Avenue. The car barn was demolished in the 1970s, and the Trolley Square shopping center was built in its place, and a walkable neighborhood arose in its wake.

Although the neighborhood is home to many of Wilmington’s creative class, the utility boxes in the area were a particular eyesore. Tired of boxes covered in graffiti, the Trolley Square (Delaware Avenue) Community Association partnered with a local council member to paint murals along the utility boxes in spring 2022.

In all, 18 utility boxes were repainted during the project. Murals range from local sights like the Brandywine River and Rockford Tower to colorful insects and animals. One utility box has stood out from the rest. As conceived by artist Remi Poindexter from nearby Newark, Delaware, the box has been painted bright red to resemble a classic gumball machine. Multi-colored gumballs line the screen, and there is a slot for coins. A tray is painted on the machine that reads “THANK YOU,” though it will never deliver a gumball, to the eternal torment of hungry children.

Know Before You Go

Visit the Trolley Square Mural Project for more information and a map of the 18 mural locations. The Gumball Machine is located on the south side of the intersection, but you can’t miss it. It’s a giant gumball machine.

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